I hear this expression all the time. I hear it used in the sentence “well he always was the black sheep of the family” and I hear it used in the first person such as “well I am the black sheep of my family.” This week I have been thinking about HOW a child becomes “the black sheep of the family” in the first place. The black sheep may be the one that rebels against the family system or the black sheep is also used to describe the one who “doesn’t fit in” with the family. Not “fitting in” with the family usually means not being accepted by the family for going against the family rules, questioning certain practices or simply for being an individual. (note: sometimes “not fitting in” is simply the feeling of not being as “good” or as valuable as other siblings or other family members.)
I am not sure if I am now or ever was regarded as the black sheep in my family, but I certainly didn’t feel like I fit in there even before I stood up and publically rebelled against the total family dysfunction I grew up with. I resisted thinking that I might have been “the black sheep” because to me it was an admission of the rejection that I had always felt; rejection that I was terrified to acknowledge. I tried for most of my young years to comply but even that didn’t keep me safe and the feeling that I was “not loved” was always lingering close by.
There were things said all along about me by my family that discredited me long before I ever exposed any of the truth about what had been going on in my childhood. From a very young age I was defined as a story teller and an exaggerator. Being defined that way created a default mode where I was always examining ME and not “them” which served a great purpose for abusers and controllers. Publically, these things were said to discredit me. But why? Why do those foundations get laid in by the controllers in the first place. Why did I need to be discredited?
I was defined as moody and sullen, which may have been true, but why was I moody and sullen? The reasons for the fact that I was withdrawn were never addressed but rather this information was used against me as the proof that something was “wrong” with me. And all this was done long before I ever rebelled or disclosed any of the dysfunction going on in my family.
It seems to me as I get more and more clarity into the dysfunctional family system that just as the grooming process of a child is methodical, so is the discrediting process of that same child. People here on Emerging from Broken comment all the time that it is as though “we” have been raised in the same family or “we” must have the same mother or father but the sad truth is that the ways that children are treated, mistreated and devalued are so typical and commonly accepted as “normal” that people are surprised to find out that the difficulties communicated by us as adults regarding what happened to us as children are actually common!
The ways that children are disregarded are so typical in fact that it’s hard to believe there isn’t a script being followed by these manipulative and abusive family members. And the mystery behind why we are so surprised to find so many others who feel the way we have felt is explained by the way we are so successfully groomed to accept and keep the family secrets, “respect” our parents and all their decisions and behaviours as “right” and not question or discover that there could be an explanation for our depressions, low self esteem and other mental health issues.
I was defined from a young age as dramatic, an exaggerator and story teller so much so that I accepted that definition of myself. I believed that I exaggerated ~ and believed this definition of me was proof that I was the one in the wrong and thus the beginning of the Black Sheep Syndrome.
I was groomed to believe that the problem WAS me; I tried hard to accept that even though deep down I still thought I was right that I had been wronged but because no one validated me in any of my distress, I continued to beat myself up for not getting over it. (I call this the spin, and abusers/controllers and manipulators NEED to keep victims in that spin to keep the focus OFF the abusers themselves.) Naturally, in this spin my conclusion was that I am the common denominator is everyone’s story and ‘the problem’ at the bottom of every family issue. We live in a society where “majority rules”; it is commonly accepted that if the majority agree that the abuse and dysfunction never happened but was in fact “all in the victims’ warped mind” through that grid of understanding, the majority in a dysfunctional family system is conveniently right.
There is a twofold result when this happens; I questioned my own memories and therefore I questioned the truth itself. I had been taught to question myself and the rest of the world has been warned that I don’t properly present “the truth” so that if I ever TELL the whole story, it will be easily dismissed by those hearing it. I have been labeled all my life as a story teller and an exaggerator so that is how people have come to regard me. This definition of me will protect the perpetrators of abuse from having the spotlight of truth shone on them. When I looked at it through this grid of understanding, it’s easy to conclude that not only is there a twofold result when this happens but there there is also a twofold motive in conditioning and defining a child in this way. It is very similar to “being framed”.
Seeing the whole thing through that grid of both WHY and HOW children are used as scapegoats, labeled as “the problem” and defined as depressed, story tellers, in need of medication, difficult and “always that way” made it easier for me to understand how I willingly stopped fighting their warped definition of me and accepted it for all those years.
Another most unfortunate result of this kind of conditioning is that it sends a message to other perpetrators that this child is not believable, leaving that child vulnerable to other predators as well.
Please share your thoughts about how a child becomes known as the black sheep and how this in fact serves the ultimate purpose of the abuser or any other thoughts you wish to share here. Remember that you may use whatever name you wish to use on this site. Your identity is safe unless you reveal it yourself in the comment form.
Exposing Truth; one snapshot at a time;
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Related Posts ~ The conversation about the black sheep concept started in the comments of “the deception of an emotionally unavailable father”.